When you become pregnant there are several health conditions you should be aware of. Even though many women experience a normal and smooth pregnancy, it is not a bad thing to be aware of certain health conditions. In some cases, certain symptoms and signs will arise and you will know when and if to say something to your health practitioner.
A common health condition that happens in pregnant women is preeclampsia, which is also referred to as toxemia. This is a common condition that is thrown around in the birth world and diagnosed quite often. Preeclampsia is high blood pressure in women who have never experienced high blood pressure before becoming pregnant. In addition to the high blood pressure, women will have high amounts of protein in their urine and swelling in their hands, legs, and feet.
“Pre”eclampsia is the before stage of eclampsia. Eclampsia can be a deadly condition if it is not caught early enough. This is when a pregnant woman may experience one or more seizures and it may lead to a coma or death. Preeclampsia usually appears at about the 20-week mark, but can definitely appear earlier or much later in a pregnancy.
When you visit your health practitioner, they will check your blood pressure and you will give them a urine sample. They will use these two tests to look at whether you may be experiencing preeclampsia along with any other health conditions. Swelling may also be a sign, but it is also important to remember that pregnant women may swell for other reasons also. Swelling can be common during pregnancy and may not mean anything serious, except that you may need to rest and take it easy.
High blood pressure, high amounts of protein in the urine, and swelling are three common symptoms of preeclampsia, but there are also several other symptoms that may occur, including severe headaches, abdominal pain, vision changes, dizziness, a decrease in urine output, flashing lights or floaters. If you begin noticing any of these symptoms it is extremely important you see your health practitioner right away. Some women may not notice any symptoms at all. This is another reason you should make sure you are visiting your health practitioner regularly.
There are many reasons that preeclampsia may occur in pregnant women. If you have had a previous history of high blood pressure before becoming pregnant, have experienced preeclampsia in previous pregnancies, or have had a mother or sister who has also experienced preeclampsia, you may be predisposed to this condition. Also, a history of obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, and other health conditions may cause preeclampsia also.
There are several ways preeclampsia can affect the mother, but this health condition can also affect the baby in several ways. Preeclampsia can affect how much blood the placenta is receiving, and this can cause your baby to be born very small. Your placenta is what provides blood and nourishment to your baby throughout your pregnancy. When preeclampsia occurs, your blood vessels narrow and it causes decreased blood flow to the placenta. As a result, there is a decrease of blood flow to the baby and uterus. Preeclampsia can lead to premature births that in the long run may cause learning disabilities, seizures, and hearing and vision problems.
Unfortunately, there is not a cure for preeclampsia and the only way to end preeclampsia is by giving birth to your baby. Of course, this depends on how far along you are in your pregnancy and how well developed your baby is. It is extremely important for your baby to stay inside your uterus for as long as possible and to develop for as long as possible. On the other hand, it can be extremely dangerous for you and baby if you are preeclampsia or eclampsia. Weighing the pros and cons of both options will be done between you and your health provider. Your health provider will create a plan that may consist of bed rest, medications, and an early delivery.
If you have a mild case of preeclampsia, which a lot of pregnant women are diagnosed with, there are things that can be done to ensure you and baby are safe and baby can continue to grow within your uterus. You may be ordered to strict bed-rest either at home, or in a hospital, and will be asked to lie on your left side. There will be a lot of monitoring of the baby to make sure its heart rate is normal. You may be prescribed medications to help lower their blood pressure.
After the baby is born, preeclampsia or eclampsia may disappear right away, hours after giving birth or within one to six weeks. Just because you are diagnosed with preeclampsia during your pregnancy does not mean you will continue to have high blood pressure after the baby is born. Preeclampsia is entirely related to pregnancy.
It is extremely important if you experience preeclampsia in a pregnancy that you make sure your health provider is aware if and when you become pregnant again. There are no clear ways to prevent preeclampsia, but some studies have shown that taking a low-dose aspirin, between 60 – 81 mg daily, late in the first trimester may help. Also, taking a calcium supplement may help prevent preeclampsia. It is important before taking anything you discuss it with your health practitioner and sees what option may be right for you.
Preeclampsia and eclampsia may be a little frightening for a newly pregnant woman, but being aware of the symptoms and causes will allow you to be proactive in your health during pregnancy.